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     Scottish CND      Magazine

Diary of a Walk for Peace

Extracts from the diary of the Walk for Peace from Brussels to Faslane, organised by For Mother Earth in Belgium.

walk at bells bridge

Photo shows the walkers crossing Bells Bridge in Glasgow near the end of their journey.

Day 1 - 12 July - Brussels/Aalst

We started at NATO headquarters, where we had a circle. There were some new people and an ex-member of the European Parliament joined us with his wife. He was going to work in the Scottish government. So that was good. He walked along for a few hours.

We walked 32km, and at 18:00 we were expected at the city hall in Aalst. Serge and I got there a little later. The mayor was female and she was very nice. She spoke from her heart; about her children and grandchildren that she wanted to protect against nuclear weapons. Everybody was very tired, but also very happy.

Marjan Willemsen (the Netherlands)

Day 2 - 13 July - Aalst/Gent

I woke up when Krista chick came with a nice cup of coffee. Lovely. Got my stuff together and went for breakfast. Fresh cherries, bread, cheese, tea, coffee... well done, Ronald. .....

I met the walk again at the city hall of Gent, where we heard what the city of Gent is doing for nuclear disarmament. They will sign the resolution, good.

We had a good talk with the walkers about Trident Ploughshares 2000, and support for the Titanic Trident group. Dinner arrived only half an hour late and was delicious, as always. Tram to the campsite, reading, talking, people getting to bed. I think I was the last one. I slept well.

Hanna Jarvinen (Finland)

Day 3 - 14 July - Gent/Aalter

Almost the whole day we walked along the canal which connects Ghent and Oostende. The stronger wind, the very flat landscape with few small villages, and finally the first bunkers - souvenirs of WW II - reminds us that we are getting closer to the sea. Instead of taking lunch Serge jumps in the water for a nice 'swim' , nobody else -though all quite younger- wants to join him. In the late afternoon the group armed with banners and flyers walks through the town of Brugge. Here we get the opportunity to inform people from all over the walk about the walk because the city is exploding with tourists. An elderly lady who acts as councellor of environment receives us in the town hall with drinks and promises of support for our actions...

Sigi van Schuylenburg (Belgium)

Day 6 - 17 July - Dover/Redhill

In a Scottish loch north of Glasgow, monsters are no legend but a tangible reality. Here the British Trident submarines harbour enough nuclear warheads to recreate the holocaust of Hiroshima and Nagasaki thousands of times over.

This is why Friday morning of 17 July saw 22 people gather in the swirling drizzle of Dover at the beginning of a walk to the military base of Faslane in Scotland, where the Trident submarines are kept. Most of the group had walked already from Brussels to Ostend to take the ferry to the UK. The walk will pass north through the UK, stopping en route at sites implicated in Britain's nuclear weapons programme ...

The challenges that the walkers will face became evident immediately on arrival in Dover, where British police from the Anti-Terrorist unit were present to question the avowedly non-violent protesters. ...

From Dover to Aldermaston is a distance of some 180 miles, and to cover it by foot power alone the group have travelled as a relay run, supported by bicycles. On Friday morning a runner set out from the port of Dover; by midnight the runners had reached the village of Ash in Kent, having covered around 70 miles. The remainder of the day's journey to Redhill in Surrey, south of London, was completed by cyclists in the early hours of the morning. Threading their way across the hills of the North Downs, the runners were taking a route close to that still frequented today by pilgrims who travel to Canterbury in Kent and sometimes further to Dover's white cliffs. ..

Philip Ball (England)

Day 8 - 19 July - Rest day in Aldermaston

After running in the burning sun for two full days we had a rest day in the shadow of the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston. Or lets's call it a day without walking, because having meetings and action preparations for hours might not be what people normally call resting.

I had weird feelings while laying on the grass by the fence of the base -just a couple of meters from me there we people whose job was to protect preparations of genocide; here they built enough nuclear weapons to destroy everything on the Earth, the whole planet, and they were still doing it... This was the place where the plans of the Nuclear Planning Group meeting every now and then at NATO HQ in Brussels were put into practice. ... Two more walkers from Sweden joined in

Katri Silvonen (Finland)

Day 12 - 23 July - Longnor/Stockport

These are the days of long walks. Hurting legs and paining feet comes with it. In one day it gives you the opportunity to have many kinds of feelings! I've been so angry with all the cars and trucks driving so fast and so close to where we're walking. I've been thrown into a magical feeling when looking at the view of the mountains. I've been oh so hungry but well fed at the "Wild Carrot" veggie restaurant in Buxton.

We are struggling and we are strong. Fortunately some of us manage to keep the walk going and so others can hitch or take a train when it's getting to rough and long and rainy...

It's sometimes hard to remember for me that this is a peacewalk so it was good that some local people from Buxton joined us for several hours. We were walking together and that gave me energy and inspiration. Even if we are still so small we can always meet somewhere.

Maria (Sweden) Day 23 - 3 August - Beattock-Elvanfoot

We woke up at seven, after a stormfull night with lot's of rain and wind. At morning circle, Kossuh (from Finland) tells us about the suffering rabbit he saw yesterday. The rabbit was wounded by a car and he killed it (with pain in his heart), because he thinks that killing it is better than a painful death.

Later, Alex (who got ill) wishes us the best for the daily walk. We leave without Serge, who goes back to Beattock to celebrate Jesus and Sunday at church.

We climbed the first 15 km on a public path (which was slippery of all the rain and mud), up and down the hills, through the fog. The last part on the asphalt was rather easy to walk in compare to the off the road walking. Luckily we found a place to sleep in Crawford, 3 km away from Elvanfoot, where we could stay in a community centre.

Serge Levillayer (France)

Day 24 - 4 August - Talamh, Lanarkshire

I'm staring at a ceiling that's full of old posters for actions, concerts, demos, etc, and with balloons hanging down from it. It's a beautiful room. It's inside Talamh community were we will be sleeping the next two nights. I expect a good time. I couldn't expect anything else after the brilliant welcoming we got: One man, with the hammer ready, chasing a nuclear bomb. Fortunately the bomb ran away before it was smashed.

All the way during the walk we've been invited by local people who supports us and wants to give us a helping hand. They have made delicious meals, lent us their washing machines and made room for us in their houses, gardens and communities. It's great to receive all this and it's inspiring to meet all these people and to listen to their stories. But I'm still surprised every time it happens, because after a day of walking I feel more like a tired, introvert holiday walker than a peace activist that i supposed to believe in, and work for, a better future.

Well, it's great to see that I can give some inspiration to others (they keep on telling us that we're doing that). Otherwise I'm mostly on this walk to get inspiration and fuel my spirits for future campaigns. And as I'm successful in that I guess this is a good walk. At least for me.

Calle (Sweden)

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